Network (AFI #64)

“This is one of many movies on the list that I’d never heard of before starting this project. But IMDB has just informed me of some rather interesting stats about it. Its only the second movie to ever win 3 acting Oscars, the first being Street Car Named Desire which we’ll get to later on this fall. Also, Peter Finch is one of two actors to get a posthumous Oscar win. I think we all know the other–Heath Ledger *tear*. Beatrice Straight won supporting actress for the shortest amount of screentime for a winning role. I thought Judi Dench had that distinction for Shakespeare in Love, but she’s apparently second with 8 minutes of screentime. Straight only had 5. But I have to say, without even knowing she’d won an Oscar, I was really struck by those 5 minutes. Also, I guess the reason I find all of Network’s Academy Award triumphs so remarkable is that 1976 was a good year for movies. 3 of the 4 other movies it was up against for Best Picture appear on the AFI list – Rocky (which took the win), Taxi Driver, and All the Presidents Men. Huh.

Anyways, as has been the case with most of these so far, I was hooked at the start of the film, but got lost along the way. However, this time was mostly my fault. I’d misread a synopsis of the movie, and was waiting for events that weren’t ever gonna happen. Once I realized that, my disappointment made me momentarily lose interest. I got it back eventually, but not as strongly as it’d started.

I find stories about people who work behind the scenes in the entertainment business to be really interesting. I’d meant to point that out last night with Sullivan’s Travels, but somehow missed it come blog time. This time around it was about a tv network (ooooh that’s where the title comes from!). I know its all sensationalized fiction, but I find it kinda ironic that an industry Im so interested in is littered by a type of person I’d never wanna actually hafta interact with.

Besides the kinda messed up (in a good way, or at least good way for me) beginning, the end (I wont spoil) took an even more messed up turn. That definitely gets points from me, even if the middle dragged. And the cast was fantastic. The lovely Faye Dunaway makes yet another appearance in an AFI movie, and it wont be the last time we see her. But I think I liked her better in Chinatown than Network, even though Network is the one that finally got her a win. Already mentioned that Beatrice Straight was fantastic in her 5 min 40 sec of screentime. And points for Robert Duvall as well. But I think Peter Finch’s crazy Howard Beale is what really made the movie. If it wasnt for the first 20 minutes of his performance, I dont think I woulda ever gotten hooked in.”

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